Clinton believes Iraq had weapons of mass destruction: Portugal PM
January 9, 2004 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Clinton believes Iraq had weapons of mass destruction: Portugal PM Ok. The Dems and the GOP. But what did Ralph Nader say about WMD?
posted by Postroad (53 comments total)

 
Sure he did. But only one president got weapons inspectors into Iraq to thoroughly investigate the claims.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:44 AM on January 9, 2004


I mean, aside from Clinton's very limited weapon-inspector success.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:44 AM on January 9, 2004


Well I mean those weapons are just all over the damned place, how could any sane man not believe that?
posted by xmutex at 11:00 AM on January 9, 2004


> what did Ralph Nader say about WMD?

He said the Corvair was one. Which was dumb dumb dumb. But I forgive him for being a fellow tree hugger.
posted by jfuller at 11:07 AM on January 9, 2004


Shhh, postroad. We don't acknowledge things like this on Metafilter. It makes too many of us look bad. Next topic, please.
posted by BirdD0g at 11:12 AM on January 9, 2004


It's not really in doubt whether Iraq had WMD, it was documented that they had Anthrax and other agents after the first Gulf War. The question was, did they still have them, and did they have the means to use them? Still no one has answered what happened to the chemicals and agents which were documented during the first round of inspections.
posted by cell divide at 11:13 AM on January 9, 2004


I, and most Democrats, have no problem admitting Clinton was wrong. It's the Republicans who can't admit that Bush was wrong.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:14 AM on January 9, 2004


"When Clinton was here recently he told me he was absolutely convinced, given his years in the White House and the access to privileged information which he had, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction until the end of the Saddam regime"

At which point he was no longer convinced?
posted by xiffix at 11:23 AM on January 9, 2004


Do you have any ability to acknowledge that the POTUS might have some information that you don't, MrMoonPie?

That he might know some "top secret" stuff that you don't?

Clinton still believes, as late as October, that Iraq had WMDs. A recent letter to the editor in a dutch paper by a syrian author claims they were moved to Syria, and it's occupied territory, Lebanon (FREE LEBANON!!). That the WMDs are in the Bekaa valley.

It amazes me that nobody acknowledges that Saddam's people could have hidden the WMDs outside the country. Syria was violating the sanctions with regard to oil the whole time there were sanctions. Why not help a fellow Ba'athist out by hiding his WMDs?
posted by swerdloff at 11:25 AM on January 9, 2004


And coalition forces wouldn't have missed the shipments of WMDs to Syria? swedloff?

And if they did? .... who missed those shipments and why?
posted by specialk420 at 11:29 AM on January 9, 2004


so the president is being mainpulated by the intelligence agencies.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:30 AM on January 9, 2004


"I, and most Democrats, have no problem admitting Clinton was wrong."

Damn straight. Clinton was wrong on a lot of things, especially the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
And I was one of the chorus crying "Wag the Dog" when he tried to take out Al Queda with cruise missiles, which in hind sight was probably the right thing to do.
This myth of "Clinton could do no wrong in the eyes of the left" is just more ignorant right wing bullshit.
I won't tolerate lies or the looting of the commons from anyone.
Don't piss on my back and tell me it's raining.
posted by 2sheets at 11:41 AM on January 9, 2004


This isn't a quote of Clinton saying he was convinced, it's a quote of the Portuguese PM saying that Clinton said he was convinced. There are a few problems with this:

1) hearsay is pretty useless at the best of times, hearsay about opinions is worse;
2) ex-Presidents have a diplomatic role: At that moment Clinton may have been in a position where he felt he must not gainsay the current officeholder. Hey, you never know.
3) Don't Republicans usually rush to say that Clinton is a liar? Why is he suddenly so credible now, even secondhand from a *gasp* European leader?
4) If Clinton is so convinced, why hasn't he said it on the record to the public or the press? It's not like he doesn't have a hundred speaking engagements a year.

In short, pretty damn thin stuff.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:42 AM on January 9, 2004


The one action for which I cannot hold Administration officials blameless is their distortion of intelligence estimates when making the public case for going to war.

As best I can tell, these officials were guilty not of lying but of creative omission. They discussed only those elements of intelligence estimates that served their cause. This was particularly apparent in regard to the time frame for Iraq's acquisition of a nuclear weapon—the issue that most alarmed the American public and the rest of the world. Remember that the NIE said that Iraq was likely to have a nuclear weapon in five to seven years if it had to produce the fissile material indigenously, and that it might have one in less than a year if it could obtain the material from a foreign source. The intelligence community considered it highly unlikely that Iraq would be able to obtain weapons-grade material from a foreign source; it had been trying to do so for twenty-five years with no luck. However, time after time senior Administration officials discussed only the worst-case, and least likely, scenario, and failed to mention the intelligence community's most likely scenario. Some examples:
In a radio address on September 14, 2002, President Bush warned, "Today Saddam Hussein has the scientists and infrastructure for a nuclear-weapons program, and has illicitly sought to purchase the equipment needed to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should his regime acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year."

On October 7, 2002, the President told a group in Cincinnati, "If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year."

On November 1, 2002, Undersecretary of State John Bolton told the Second Global Conference on Nuclear, Bio/Chem Terrorism, "We estimate that once Iraq acquires fissile material—whether from a foreign source or by securing the materials to build an indigenous fissile-material capability—it could fabricate a nuclear weapon within one year."

Vice President Cheney said on NBC's Meet the Press on September 14, 2003, "The judgment in the NIE was that if Saddam could acquire fissile material, weapons-grade material, that he would have a nuclear weapon within a few months to a year. That was the judgment of the intelligence community of the United States, and they had a high degree of confidence in it."
None of these statements in itself was untrue. However, each told only a part of the story—the most sensational part. These statements all implied that the U.S. intelligence community believed that Saddam would have a nuclear weapon within a year unless the United States acted at once.

Some defenders of the Administration have reportedly countered that all it did was make the best possible case for war, playing a role similar to that of a defense attorney who is charged with presenting the best possible case for a client (even if the client is guilty). That is a false analogy. A defense attorney is responsible for presenting only one side of a dispute. The President is responsible for serving the entire nation. Only the Administration has access to all the information available to various agencies of the U.S. government—and withholding or downplaying some of that information for its own purposes is a betrayal of that responsibility.


Kenneth M. Pollack
Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong
The Atlantic, January-February 2004
posted by y2karl at 11:44 AM on January 9, 2004


specialk - depends when they were shipped and how they were shipped.

A few "bandits" (or whatever the Iraqi equivalent is) travelling in 2000 (under Clinton's watch) as the sanctions continued, or more likely, in 1998 after Desert Fox, well, no, I can't say that we'd necessarily have seen them, can you?

And if you've got random trucks taking pieces over slowly, there's another way, no? It's not like we had border patrols until we invaded. And the Syrian Iraqi border's pretty porous, and remained that way while the UN was "inspecting."
posted by swerdloff at 11:46 AM on January 9, 2004


WMD in IRAQ: Evidence and Implications, a new study from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
posted by homunculus at 11:51 AM on January 9, 2004


Wait - can I start a rousing rendition of "Clinton Lied, People Died?"

I mean... Clinton ordered the bombing of an asprin factory, Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox (which killed a few people) and on and on and on.
posted by swerdloff at 12:07 PM on January 9, 2004


As I said, I, and most Democrats, have no problem admitting Clinton was wrong. It's the Republicans who can't admit that Bush was wrong.

swerdloff, you're using wildly hypothetical speculations to justify a war in which thousands have died. Is that really the best you can do?
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:13 PM on January 9, 2004


Do you have any ability to acknowledge that the POTUS might have some information that you don't, MrMoonPie?

That he might know some "top secret" stuff that you don't?


Yeah, but it seems that the "top secret" stuff had all been made by Ahmed Chalabi with paste and construction paper. But you're right about Clinton. Let's impeach him.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:23 PM on January 9, 2004


swerdloff, I'd buy your "Bush knows something you don't" line if:

- ANY CREDIBLE AUTHORITY outside his administation (and Tony Blair) would come to his defense.
- There weren't such overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Otherwise, it's all tautological bullshit.
posted by mkultra at 12:24 PM on January 9, 2004


You know, there are democrats that just aren't that huge of fans of William Jefferson Clinton. He was a decent president, and a hundred times better than Dubya, but he still had his faults. Most of those laid with his more conservative bent of honoring coporations, just like any other politician does, because thats where the money comes from that allows them to keep their jobs.
posted by benjh at 12:26 PM on January 9, 2004


As I said, I, and most Democrats, have no problem admitting Clinton was wrong
Are you truly sure. Wish I could find Clinton's transcripts from the David Letterman show, Jan 1st 2002, as Clinton words were harsher than Bush's during that time.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:27 PM on January 9, 2004


Clinton ordered the bombing of an asprin factory, Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox (which killed a few people) and on and on and on.

The parallels are staggering!

Fact is, for all the whining and pouting from the left for those eight years, Bill Clinton was actually a better Commander in Chief than Bush is. He certainly was responsible for a lot fewer GIs coming home in bags, and the US during that time managed to stabilize the Balkans under his presidency. And apparently, it turns out, he managed to keep Saddam from redeveloping his weapons programs--to a much greater degree than even he understood.
posted by jpoulos at 12:29 PM on January 9, 2004


And apparently, it turns out, he managed to keep Saddam from redeveloping his weapons programs--to a much greater degree than even he understood.

Hold on now. How can you credit Clinton for keeping Saddam from redeveloping WMD's when he, apparently (since I too believe this is hearsay), felt that Saddam did, in fact, have such capabilities? It was a team of UN inspectors that kept Saddam's threat at bay in a practical sense. Using your logic, we could thank France for their great job, or anyone else who sent inspectors.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:42 PM on January 9, 2004


Looks like postroad is channeling InstaCracker today. Ok, fair enough, I'll channel Pandagon.
Okay, I'm trying to stay away from Glenn, but he's got a new egregious bit of Glennuendo. In an entry discussing how Bill Clinton suspected Saddam Hussein maintained WMD, Glenn characterizes criticism of Bush's case for said WMD as such:
the popular Bush-made-it-up theory

He also says that since Clinton suspected that Iraq had WMD, it excuses the Bush Administration's obviously flawed attempt to prove that Saddam had WMD, because, as we all know, suspicion is the same thing as evidence. It's yet another example of Glenn's inability to properly synthesize an argument outside of his basic axioms (another of which is that "the buck stops at Clinton").

Nobody that I know of is saying that Bush made up the suspicion that Saddam had WMDs, or historically had them. What many are saying (be careful to pay attention to this, because it's the actual argument) is that Bush's case for Saddam's present WMD was based largely on purposeful misreading of intelligence, fabrications, and a passion for getting the war he wanted, facts be damned. Bush's case for Saddam presently being a threat, based on the information available to him as the president from his intelligence services, was MADE UP. It's not an intelligence failure - it's a failure of integrity and honesty.
posted by nofundy at 12:53 PM on January 9, 2004


Postroad,

A pretty pointless post. Plenty of Democrats in Congress share this belief. This is more deflection from the disturbing reality of how the belief about WMD became so widespread and why it's so hard to find the WMDs to settle it once and for all?
posted by john at 12:54 PM on January 9, 2004


It was a team of UN inspectors that kept Saddam's threat at bay in a practical sense. Using your logic, we could thank France for their great job, or anyone else who sent inspectors.

You said it, BlueTrain. Thank You, UN! Too bad Dubya was more interested in killin' than the truth.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:54 PM on January 9, 2004


point taken.
posted by jpoulos at 12:59 PM on January 9, 2004


Oh goody, we're sending aWol to Mars!

Can we get a bigger ship and send all his fanatical supporters too?

One way ticket please!
posted by nofundy at 1:08 PM on January 9, 2004


Oops, wrong thread for previous comment. Apologies.
posted by nofundy at 1:13 PM on January 9, 2004


"Oops, wrong thread for previous comment."

I'm not so sure it is the wrong thread, nofundy.
posted by 2sheets at 1:15 PM on January 9, 2004


Why should we believe this Prime Minister guy? I mean he's from "Portugal" for Pete's sake.
posted by jonmc at 1:22 PM on January 9, 2004


It amazes me that nobody acknowledges that Saddam's people could have hidden the WMDs outside the country. Syria was violating the sanctions with regard to oil the whole time there were sanctions. Why not help a fellow Ba'athist out by hiding his WMDs?

It's just really bizarre to believe that any country would trust any other country with their WMD arsenal, no matter how closely they were allied. Suppose that by some weird circumstance Soviet Russia gave East Germany their entire stockpile of nuclear weapons. You don't think that would have changed the nature of the "fellowship"? This goes for democracies too: suppose we told Britain to hold on to our nuclear arsenal for a bit. Think we'd ever see it again?
posted by furiousthought at 1:29 PM on January 9, 2004


Uh, Clinton himslef says he thought Iraq had WMD in these videos. (I think they're the same one). I'm not sure this is a controversial topic -- he's been on the record for awhile.
posted by raaka at 1:29 PM on January 9, 2004


That the WMDs are in the Bekaa valley

and there it goes Ladies and Gentlemen...

Attaq Syria/Lebanon(again?)/Iran you-name-it, coming soon in Spring 2005.
after all there's 1.2 bn Muslims, it'll take a lot of work to kill them all

travelling in 2000 (under Clinton's watch

right -- not to mention that 9-11 happened under that damn Clinton watch, too (and the 1990's economic boom's real credit must go to Ronald Reagan)
posted by matteo at 1:34 PM on January 9, 2004


I, and most Democrats, have no problem admitting Clinton was wrong. It's the Republicans who can't admit that Bush was wrong.

And therein lies the difference, and the reason why Rebublicans have zero credibility at this point.

Do you have any ability to acknowledge that the POTUS might have some information that you don't, MrMoonPie?

You don't go to war over "secret information." And you don't justify a war with a series of lies and misdirections, even (especially?) if you have valid reasons.
posted by rushmc at 1:35 PM on January 9, 2004


A recent letter to the editor in a dutch paper by a syrian author claims they were moved to Syria, and it's occupied territory, Lebanon (FREE LEBANON!!). That the WMDs are in the Bekaa valley.

Holy Crap! A letter to the editor of a Dutch paper by a Syrian with seemingly no evidence or proof? Let's Roll!

Why should we believe this Prime Minister guy? I mean he's from "Portugal" for Pete's sake.

I thought we had come to the consensus that "Portugal" was not really a country but a small farm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Or was that just me?
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:36 PM on January 9, 2004


Looks like postroad is channeling InstaCracker today

who? is that the guy who wrote

THE UNITED STATES SHOULD NOT TRY to play a "neutral arbiter" in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. We should, in fact, be doing our best to make the Palestinians suffer, because, to put it bluntly, they are our enemies. Just read this post and follow the links to see how they feel about America.
...
These folks are our enemies, and deserve to be treated as such. They don't deserve a state of their own. It's not clear that they even deserve to keep what they've got


heh. Fair and balanced indeed.
I also like the way he's under the delusion it's up to him to decide whether the Palestinians "deserve" a State (the sheer racist attitude of that is almost funny in its shamelessness).

but believing your own warblogger fan mail can do that to a man's mind, I guess
posted by matteo at 1:42 PM on January 9, 2004


On the other hand, if there were factions in Saddam's fabulously disloyal army that wanted Syria to have the WMDs I suppose that could account for the "Syrian handoff." Hmm. That's worth thinking about.
posted by furiousthought at 1:43 PM on January 9, 2004


Thanks for the memories, Saddam. [Flash]
posted by homunculus at 2:15 PM on January 9, 2004


Wow.

And NoFundy goes the racism route and the utility of the conversation drops to zero. InstaCracker? Come on.

Good job, dude!
posted by swerdloff at 2:34 PM on January 9, 2004


Swerdloff is really reaching--but, alas, exceeding his grasp--
for the one ups. I ♥ the utility of the conversation for today! Pot meet crusty kettle.
posted by y2karl at 4:28 PM on January 9, 2004


Still no one has answered what happened to the chemicals and agents which were documented during the first round of inspections.

I'd like to point out that it was Saddam's job to explain what happened to them, and he never, ever did. Can anyone reasonably argue otherwise?
posted by techgnollogic at 4:46 PM on January 9, 2004


Wait..

I thought Republicans regarded Clinton as an evil liar.

So why would they use anything he said to justify their POV?
posted by RobbieFal at 5:21 PM on January 9, 2004


"I'd like to point out that it was Saddam's job to explain what happened to them"

I'm by no means justifying anything Saddam did, but I believe it was also his job to keep Iran, the Kurds, and the Turks out of Iraq. I don't think that anyone in that region wants to let it be widely know that they are disarmed and have a demoralized, ill-equipped and poorly trained army, which seems to have been the case.
The bluff didn't work on us. But we knew it was a bluff and used it as an excuse to carry out a pre-existing plan to invade and occupy Iraq for the purpose of shaping the future of the middle east through intimidation. That was the plan, and it's pathetic to keep lying about it when the only people who believe that lie are the ignorant and the neocons who think it's ok to lie to the ignorant.
posted by 2sheets at 5:31 PM on January 9, 2004


Can I reiterate what Mr. Spiggot said that this is complete useless hearsay. Clinton supposedly said, and has not repeated, this statement to the Prime Minister of Portugal, possibly a biased source since they were for the war.
posted by destro at 7:55 PM on January 9, 2004


"In the next century, the community of nations may see more and more the very kind of threat Iraq poses now a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction ready to use them or provide them to terrorists, drug traffickers or organized criminals who travel the world among us unnoticed.." -- Bill Clinton in 1998

(That's to Destro)
posted by swerdloff at 9:02 PM on January 9, 2004


Political hyperbole != preemptive invasion
posted by rushmc at 9:38 PM on January 9, 2004


Bill Clinton was actually a better Commander in Chief than Bush is.

Bah. Both are sacks of shit. It's only a matter of degree.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:44 PM on January 9, 2004


As swerdloff points out, it's obvious Clinton believed Iraq was a threat. And terrorism even more so (and if Al Franken's Lies is to be believed, he took it far more seriously than Bush did for the first 9 months of office.)

And I'm even willing to believe it's possible both he and Bush were right about the WMDs.

The maddening thing about Bush's use of WMDs as a push for the Iraq invasion is more subtle than most in this thread are giving it credit for...

(1) Suppose the WMD suppostions were true. Iraq didn't fit the profile of a terrorist radical-Islam state. Their behavior was far more oriented towards traditional military offensives. One can always change, but that only seems to have happened with Saddam's deposition. Their threat as a terrorist actor seemed highly overstated.

(1a) Their status as terrorist enablers seemed more likely, but still somewhat unlikely, due to the ideological opposition between them and al-Qaeda, and the fact that Saddam ran a pretty tight ship.

(2) Isn't it sort of telling that with all the decisive intelligence the Bush administration claimed to have, there's been no discovery yet? You would have thought they would have known exactly where to find the stuff if they were that certain. Not so.

(3) But suppose again, that the WMD suppositions were true, and lets even suppose further that Iraq was willing to either directly perpetrate acts of terrorism or aid would-be terrorists, was unilateral invasion the right way to go about it? So far it hasn't delivered said WMDs into safer hands, so again, it's hard to argue that Bush's ostensible reason for invasion has been served. Hopefully that will change, but the crux of the matter is still the question: was this the best way to go about it? If there wasn't a better one (like, oh, the gradual UN occupation plan), couldn't we at least have gotten somebody who could actually work with other countries who don't do lockstep, like, oh, our last two presidents?

(4) For as hard as the Bush administration jumped up and down on the insistence that WMDs existed, you would have thought their specific intelligence would have been good enough to lead them to said weapons. But whatever unrevealed intelligence they had was obviously not concrete enough to lead us to them, and some of the intelligence they publically revealed has been discredited. It looks like they extrapolated from the past and cherry picked what supported their hunch. This does not inspire much confidence in them whether or not they turn out to eventually be right.

We've been round and round most of these before, but it's instructive to step in and look again and realize that from a Bush-critical standpoint, it very nearly doesn't matter whether or not there were WMDs. If it turns out none are ever found, it is damning to Bush: that means that either he (and Clinton) were both very wrong, or that invasion was the wrong way to get them to safe hands. If they are found, there's still plenty to dislike about his policy.

So ultimately, the difference between Clinton and Bush is not what they believed about Iraq's weapons programs. It's which one led us into a war on that ostensible basis. And if it turns out they were both wrong, then Bush's wrong is far more bitter than Clinton's.
posted by namespan at 10:13 PM on January 9, 2004


Duly noted swerdloff.

Although this will sound like nitpicking, I do think there is a difference between him saying that in 98, and him still believing this now after finding out about all of the disinformation put forth by Saddam's step-son, Chalabi and others, and that Saddam kept it all right up until the invasion.
posted by destro at 10:31 PM on January 9, 2004


Pointing out racism != racism. Glenn Reynolds earned his stripes and that is why he's InstaCracker.
posted by nofundy at 6:30 PM on January 10, 2004


Both are sacks of shit. It's only a matter of degree.

I can put you in a kettle of water heated to 100 degrees F or 212 degrees F. Both are too hot...it's only a matter of degree.
posted by rushmc at 5:48 PM on January 14, 2004


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